The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA) – which hosts the European Golf Business Conference in Amsterdam later this month – was at the forefront of golf’s recent lobbying of the European Parliament following the publication of the EU Proposed Framework Directive on Pesticides, which requested a ban on their use in public areas and sports pitches, including golf courses.
The EGCOA mounted a concerting mailing campaign to all members of the European Parliament while other submissions on behalf of golf were made by the European Golf Association, the R&A and the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations and Golf Environment Europe made an objective submission in partnership with a number of research institutes and universities.
The action appears to have garnered some support, with the European Parliament opting for proposal which causes the least disruption to golf courses.
The Parliament has asked for no change to the Commission proposal on the key article which states, ‘In other places such as public parks, sports grounds or children’s playgrounds, the risks from exposure to pesticides of the general public are high. Use of pesticides in those areas should, therefore, be reduced as far as possible, or eliminated, where appropriate.’
The justification for the amendment read, ‘There are no absolute non-chemical alternatives to golf course turfgrass management at present. Plant protection products are often an important tool in maintaining golf courses which are fit for purpose.’
EGCOA director Lodewijk Klootwijk cautiously welcomed the changes. He said, “We ere delighted that the tougher amendment was rejected. That stated, ‘Use of plant pesticides in and around those areas must, therefore, be prohibited and non-chemical alternatives should be used’.
“This illustrates that the golf lobby, when it works together, can be a powerful force and can work for the benefit of the industry as a whole.”
The EGCOA’s letter to MEPs argued in favour of retaining flexibility over how pesticide use would be regulated in different EU member states, and to avoid terms such as ‘prohibition.
It also argued that the golf industry is seriously addressing the issue of environmental sustainability and would respond well to efforts to reduce pesticide consumption voluntarily.
It highlighted that, even with plant protection products being used judiciously as a last resort, golf courses across Europe do occasionally need targeted chemical treatments to ensure reasonable turf quality for the successful undertaking of the sport and the long-term financial sustainability of the business.
Klootwijk added, “We also emphasised the EGCOA, along with many other golf organisations, is working in close partnership with Golf Environment Europe, which is playing an important role in promoting sustainable development and maintenance of golf courses in Europe.”
European Golf Course Owners Association www.egcoa.eu